Reach out and teach with kiosks
Reach out and teach with kiosks
Build your own for less
Kiosks as a patient teaching tool have been around for a while. However, staff at the New Mexico Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System in Albuquerque found the cost prohibitive when considering this technology. The cost for a custom-built kiosk is about $40,000 a unit, yet the ready-made kiosks’ content is not always satisfactory.
To remedy this problem, the staff decided to make their own kiosks by enlisting the services of a cabinetmaker, purchasing computers, and having staff create content using PowerPoint software. The cost is about $4,500 per unit.
There were several important factors that contributed to the decision to use kiosks. Most patients now have some familiarity with computers or can at least use a track ball to follow a simple lesson on a computer screen. Also, the VA has been teaching the use of PowerPoint software for many years, and many staff people know how to use the program and create content.
"Because information is constantly changing, if you have to have someone change the content for you, the unit becomes obsolete very quickly," says Dale Kennedy, MA, chief of staff development at the VA facility.
From an educational delivery perspective, kiosks complement the goal of the VA, which is to engage patients as active agents in their own health care. "The lessons on the kiosks are self-care-oriented, such as carbohydrate counting or medication refills. The entire approach is self-management, and that is how care is going in the VA system," says Carol Maller, RN, MS, CHES, patient education coordinator.
The lessons also deliver a message in an alternate medium rather than written text or video, which is important because patients have different learning styles. They are filled with visuals and graphics using pictures to communicate rather than text. "We felt that if we provided a visual lesson in addition to print material, we would appeal to different learning styles. The different messages complement each other," says Maller.
Currently, four programs are up and running on a pilot kiosk in the learning center. They include the lesson on carbohydrate counting for diabetes patients developed by a dietitian, a lesson on how to get medications refilled, and a lesson on stroke medication developed by a pharmacist. A fourth lesson on emergency preparedness was developed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was reviewed by the emergency coordinator at the hospital.
Clinicians develop most lessons; however, several volunteers with PowerPoint skills are able to take brochures and other print materials and create programs for the kiosks. They also take written copy from clinicians who are not PowerPoint-proficient and create the kiosk lessons. The edit review team, which is supervised by the hospitalwide patient education committee, approves the content for most of the lessons.
As kiosks are placed in areas throughout the hospital, lessons will be tailored to fit the patients’ educational needs. "I want staff to get invested in the kiosk lessons and customize and individualize them for their patient populations," says Maller. In addition to the learning center, a kiosk will be placed in the women’s clinic, the subspecialty area that includes cardiology and neurology, the mental health clinic, and the primary care clinic.
To determine where to place the kiosks Maller attended a meeting with outpatient clinic nurse managers to demonstrate the kiosk. Those who expressed interest will receive a kiosk.
"The biggest challenge is always space. We would like to put them in various clinic waiting rooms, but people don’t have room for a trash can, much less something the size of a desk," says Kennedy.
Cabinet design is desk-like but enclosed so all patients see is the flat-screen monitor and the track ball to operate the system. An ordinary PC is inside as well as speakers. Background music plays as patients operate the system.
The cabinetmaker designed the kiosks to certain specifications so that they fit through hospital doors. Because they are on casters, they can be moved throughout the medical center. They also are consistent with the look of the other hospital furnishings and are wheelchair-accessible. (For information on the cabinetmaker, see sources below.)
When a kiosk is located in a clinic, staff will refer patients to it while they wait to see their physician. For example, if the patient is on several medications, staff would suggest he or she review the lesson on medication refills. A directory on the kiosk not only shows patients where various clinical areas are located, it provides directions to the learning center where they can obtain more detailed information about their health care concerns.
Volunteers play an important role in the installation and upkeep of programs on the kiosk. Curtis Heckel, MA, picks up the lessons once they are approved and inserts them on the master program and loads it onto the kiosk. "I have a master disk that is a Zip drive; because when you put PowerPoint programs on a disk, it fills fast. I make certain that everything is working on the zip disk from the addition and then upload it onto the kiosk, which takes about 15-20 minutes," says Heckel.
Part of Heckel’s volunteer work is to teach other volunteers how to upload programs and teach them how to write PowerPoint programs from written copy. "This project would never have gotten where it is without the support of volunteers," says Maller.
For more information on creating kiosks, contact:
- Dale Kennedy, MA, Chief of Staff Development, New Mexico VA Health Care System, 1501 San Pedro Drive, S.E., Albuquerque, NM 87108. Telephone: (505) 265-1711, ext. 2427. E-mail: [email protected].
- Carol Maller, RN, MS, CHES, Patient Education Coordinator, New Mexico VA Health Care System, 1501 San Pedro Drive, S.E., Albuquerque, NM 87108. Telephone: (505) 265-1711, ext. 4656. E-mail: carol. [email protected].
- Bill Frahm, owner/cabinetmaker, Sunray Custom Wood Working, Albuquerque, NM. Telephone: (505) 344-4180.
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